Plug-In EVs Without The Plug

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
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Two years ago, The Guardian found a strange barrier for the acceptance of EVs: Iugophobia, or the fear of plugging in. “Consumer research revealed that 61 percent of potential electric car customers were most worried about the inconvenience of recharging.” As an answer, connectorless inductive charging has been developed both in Japan and in Germany. The same electromagnetic field technology used to charge an electric toothbrush can charge an EV in a special parking bay without the need for wires. The Germans, usually not overly excited about EVs, did what they do best: They created a standard for inductive charging.

The standard, developed by the German VDE (Verband der Elektrotechnik, Elektronik und Informationstechnik) has been accepted by most German car manufacturers. The German de facto standard now is on its way to becoming an international norm, says Automobilwoche [sub]. Latest in 2015, the standard is supposed to be internationally accepted.

The system works like a transformer: A coil in the surface establishes a field with a coil in the car, the battery charges. According ton the Guardian, “a series of plates laid into the surface of designated electric vehicle lanes on our roads and motorways” could theoretically enable charging in motion. Very theoretically. Even stationary inductive charging is less efficient than using a plug.

And then, there are the niggling details. I just found out that my electric Philips Sonicare toothbrush doesn’t fit the 110V Philips Sonicare charger we use in Japan. It’s too big.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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4 of 8 comments
  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on May 07, 2011

    Hmmmmmmmmm I could possibly see the "inductive" parking spot but then just as with these roads, who is picking up the tab for all this energy? I think I'll just wait for Mr. Fusion to be invented. (Paging Doc Brown...)

  • BuzzDog BuzzDog on May 07, 2011

    Just watch: Someone, somewhere will make a case that electromagnetc fields cause cancer. Although I must admit I like how this works with my Braun/OralB electric toothbrush...

  • Herb Herb on May 07, 2011

    Oh no! Inductive! Why not conductive? Proven technology already exists (c.f.

  • Doug Doug on May 08, 2011

    "a strange barrier for the acceptance of EVs: Iugophobia, or the fear of plugging in." Yet people don't mind pumping a highly flammable and toxic liquid into their cars. The act of plugging in only takes a few seconds and there is no chance of dripping electrons on your nice paint job. People fear change... it will pass as soon as they see how convenient it is to not have to go to the gas station.